Pinellas County asks court to help deal with Redington Long Pier

The landmark was damaged by a storm's strong winds; Officials say it must either be repaired or torn down entirely.

The Redington Long Pier was battered by high winds during the latter half of the week of Dec. 16. [Chris Henderson | Florida Beach Insider photo]
The Redington Long Pier was battered by high winds during the latter half of the week of Dec. 16. [Chris Henderson | Florida Beach Insider photo]

REDINGTON SHORES — County officials are asking the Pinellas circuit court to order the owner of the historic Redington Long Pier to repair, replace or remove the structure as soon as possible

The request for an injunction was filed Dec. 26 by Assistant County Attorney Jared D. Kahn against JERMC, Ltd., the pier’s owner.

JERMC is headed by longtime pier owner Tony Antonious.

A number of allegations relating to the pier’s unsafe condition are made in the county’s request. The pier’s closing by a county judge in 2006 “until repairs are made to the pier that would render it safe for public use” is noted.

Despite that order, Kahn wrote, the current situation is that “the pier does not meet the Florida Building Code requirements for live and wind loads and is in a precarious state of structural functionality. As late as December of 2018, storm and high winds have caused the pier to take substantial damage, including causing portions of the Pier to collapse into the waters below.”

REDINGTON SHORES — County officials are asking the Pinellas circuit court to order the owner of the historic Redington Long Pier to repair, replace or remove the structure as soon as possible

The request for an injunction was filed Dec. 26 by Assistant County Attorney Jared D. Kahn against JERMC, Ltd., the pier’s owner.

JERMC is headed by longtime pier owner Tony Antonious.

A number of allegations relating to the pier’s unsafe condition are made in the county’s request. The pier’s closing by a county judge in 2006 “until repairs are made to the pier that would render it safe for public use” is noted.

Despite that order, Kahn wrote, the current situation is that “the pier does not meet the Florida Building Code requirements for live and wind loads and is in a precarious state of structural functionality. As late as December of 2018, storm and high winds have caused the pier to take substantial damage, including causing portions of the Pier to collapse into the waters below.”

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Strong waves crash into the closed Redington Long Pier in Redington Shores. [Scott Keeler | Florida Beach Insider photo]

Redington Shores officials have seen the pier’s partial destruction during high winds during the week of Dec. 16 and the problems it has caused. Although the pier is privately owned, town employees have picked up the debris that has washed ashore along the beach.

Beach communities from the Redingtons southward to Madeira Beach have had to deal with pieces cast off from the pier floating in the water and washed up on the beach, Town Clerk Mary Palmer said.

Mayor MaryBeth Henderson called the situation dangerous.

“I was shocked by the number of people on the beach during the time the pier was collapsing and afterwards, with all the debris floating and washed ashore,’’ she said. “People were out there in Jet Skis, swimming and playing. It is definitely a danger.”

“The filing of the lawsuit to have the pier torn down is huge. If we don’t do something about it, this pier is going to be the next Red Tide. Except, instead of dead fish, we have rotting wood, rusty rebar and nails,” Henderson said.

North Redington Beach Mayor Bill Queen said his work crews had picked up Dumpsters full of wood planks and debris from the pier’s recent partial collapse.

“We’ve been out there, picking up wood. This is a safety hazard, in the water and on shore. Something needs to be done,” Queen said. “My fear is for the things we don’t see to pick up, what’s buried in the sand, somebody’s foot getting ripped by a nail.”

Queen thanked tourists and residents “who took the time to pick up the debris and put it in piles for us to pick up. That made our cleanup effort a heck of a lot easier.”

This story was originally published by Tampa Bay Newspapers on Jan. 7, 2019.

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Wayne Ayers is a correspondent for Tampa Bay Newspapers.